Straight Ahead was still playing at the time and when I saw Youth Of Today…I think I had seen them play with Agnostic Front at CB’s. I had seen Violent Children a bunch of times and I really liked them so when I heard that those guys had a new band I went to see them and thought wow these guys are great, I was moshing the whole show. As time went on I met them and they were cool. At the time Tommy was playing with them and a couple of weeks later they asked me to join. I thought this was really cool, the guys from Violent Children and they have a great band. I was 15 years old when they asked me, I was just about to turn 16.
We played a lot of weekend shows and then I quit school. I hated it and I barely went. Not that I was a trouble maker or a bad student but the teachers were so rude to me they were constantly telling me ‘you have to do this you have to do that.’ I said fuck all of these people, fuck school, you’re all assholes. My mother was so upset and she kept telling me ‘you have to go to school, you can’t quit.’ Eventually she said ‘you want to play music? You have to get your GED.’ So I went to my GED classes, took the pretest and got a 100. The instructor asked ‘why are you here? You did so well on the test.’ I told him I hated being in school. He said ‘get out of here, you’re done.’ I didn’t have to take any of the courses.
So now I’m 16 years old, dropped out of school, and I tell my mother I’m going on tour with my band. That’s when we did an east coast run down south in the summer of 1986. Some of the shows were pretty dismal and when we would get to the Carolinas and Georgia those were bad. Places up here were great though. There were so many memorable things that happened on those tours.
One thing was Tommy was freaking out and if he reads this he’s gonna kill me. He was a big strong guy and he was freaking out and we were all scared of him. At the time he was dating Alexa who was THE hardcore girl in the scene. He’s 16, bugging out because it was his first real girlfriend and he kept saying he missed her and wanted to be with her. We were so mad at him but we can’t say anything because he’s crazy. So we bootbath his bag – we kick the shit out of it. When he comes back he opens his bag and says ‘goddamn southern heat my toothpaste and shampoo exploded over everything!’ I felt really bad because he was my friend and will be until the day I die but we were so annoyed with him.
Then we flew out to the west coast and played four shows but wound up staying at Dan O’Mahony’s mom’s house for about 6 weeks. We played a garage show with Zack’s band and Uniform Choice, Fender’s with Murphy’s Law and a few others I can’t remember. That was where I met all of those California guys the whole California crew who I just saw at the Rev shows in June and I’m still friends with them.
While in California we stayed at the MRR house with Tim Yohannan. While their view of us was really opinionated once you hung out with them it was really cool and there was a joking, comedic side to them. I remember Porcell brought in some Goober Grape which is peanut butter and jelly mixed and they flipped out on us saying he couldn’t have it in the house because it was corporate. Porcell couldn’t believe it and he started saying ‘what’s wrong with you guys, what are you talking about?’ Finally they said they were only joking and started laughing.
Tim Yohannon had this huge record collection and Porcell took this seven inch of some random band who I never heard of and he put it in my bag. So Tim Yohannan was saying ‘listen there is a record missing and I don’t know you guys so I want to check your bags.’ I didn’t take it so I told him go ahead, and there it was right in my bag. Those guys were like ‘what do you have to say Craig?’ I just downplayed it, saying ‘oh yeah it’s in my bag whatever.’ Then everyone started laughing since they were all in on it. I took the shot for him, I didn’t rat him out even though i knew he put it in there.
Mike Judge was playing drums for them by this time and was a really cool guy and after we got back I was hanging out with him. He said he wanted to quit and start a new band that is going to be straight edge hardcore and metal and he was going to call it Judge. So I told him that sounds cool, I’m going to leave and rededicate myself to Straight Ahead and let YOT do their own thing. It wasn’t like I was contributing to the band, I wrote one song which was called New Beginning which we only played live a bunch of times and never recorded it. New Beginning was the name of the label that was going to put out the record before Wishingwell. I was used to being creative and writing songs. I loved playing with them, the live shows were amazing, the energy was intense but I wanted something more creativity-wise.
The recording of Break Down The Walls was somewhere upstate and it was pretty fun but I was playing on this weird Gibson Explorer bass with these dead strings. I recorded my tracks and when I heard them I didn’t like it, I wanted to do it over. For whatever reason I didn’t have a bass with me. I told them give me a hundred bucks to rerecord my stuff but they said ‘no we don’t have it in the budget.’ So I took my own money had my brother drive me up there on a 3 hour drive and I rerecorded the bass tracks on the already recorded record. I still wasn’t so happy with them, and even though I was 16 years old I still wanted it to be a representation of me.
Every Youth Of Today show was like a Straight Ahead show at CB’s where it was a huge event in that everyone sang along and went crazy. If Straight Ahead went up to Albany we wouldn’t have a show like that but YOT would. Youth Of Today was really starting to come up at that time, there was so much high energy. When I played with them I was straight edge and vegetarian, which was good for me because before that I was a dirty kid from Queens who smoked pot and drank. They exposed me to those things and was a very good thing, it made me understand a whole part of my life which could be enjoyed. It was a real early learning experience that later in life would become very beneficial to me. On this day right now I don’t drink or do drugs and I’m vegetarian.
At the end after I left YOT, Straight Ahead played this dismal show in Albany and we drove back as fast as we could to see Youth Of Today at CB’s, and we got there right as they were finishing. The place was packed everyone was going nuts, and I was like ‘shit this sucks.’ I had a feeling in my stomach that I was a part of this band that was so much fun and I let it go. It wasn’t meant to be. That was the only band that I ever quit in my life. I was sick to my stomach for a couple hours after that. Especially after that horrible Straight Ahead show that sucked and Tommy acting all weird. This did not turn out the way I wanted it to be. I was in YOT for one year – 1986. But as fate would have it I got a phone call that I never thought I would get. I still see those guys once in awhile since we sort of live near each other and I feel we enjoy a good friendship.
Recently at the Rev shows in June you, Richie and Drew got together and played Break Down The Walls. Did that having any sentimental meaning to you?
It was fun, that’s it. I live upstate on a farm pretty close to where Ray and John live and we always say let’s get together so I got invited to a lunch at Steve Reddy’s house with those guys and we got together to hang out. I don’t want to say we let bygones be bygones because when you’re 16 and you get into a fight with someone over something silly it doesn’t carry over into adulthood. We talked and had a great time. We still talk every once in awhile but things don’t work out. We’re all busy in our own lives.